Publix Cooking Class with Guest Chef

Publix Cooking Class – Guest Chef Timon Ballo

We attended a Publix Aprons Cooking School class last evening featuring guest executive chef Timon Ballo from the Sugarcane Raw Bar and Grill with locations in Miami, Las Vegas, and Brooklyn. This popular restaurant features globally-inspired small plates and Spanish-style tapas. The evening’s cooking class was fully booked. We were greeted with a glass of black cherry sangria.

cooking school guest chef

sangria

Next came a Chilled Spanish Ajo Verde Soup that was better than I’d expected. Smoked paprika gave this cold soup a bit of a spicy kick. It would be a good menu choice for the summer. Green grapes and English cucumbers provided the green color, while marcona almonds added a touch of crunch. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc was served with this soup.

ajo verde soup

The second course was Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese and Pistachio Crumble. I could eat this for a meal along with a salad. It was so good. We learned how to clean and trim fresh beets, then coat them with olive oil before wrapping each one in aluminum foil. These are roasted until tender and then peeled. The goat cheese whipped with heavy cream provided a perfect garnish amid a sprinkle of arugula and crushed pistachios. The chefs dribbled honey on top before serving. La Crema Pinot Noir was the wine with this course.

chef working beets

Pan Roasted Salmon with Spring Vegetables was the main entrée. This was wild caught sockeye salmon, with citrus accents and a medley of fresh sautéed spring vegetables. Another delicious dish. Roth Chardonnay was the perfect wine choice here.

salmon

Dessert was a melt-in-your-mouth Buttermilk Panna Cotta with White Port-Soaked Fruit. This was a pudding-like confection with a berry garnish. Sandeman Ruby Port was a sweet accompaniment to end the evening.

panna cotta

If you have a Publix Aprons Cooking School near you, check out their classes. It’s more fun than an expensive meal in a fancy restaurant and much better priced.

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Aprons Cooking School

Publix Cooking Class
We always enjoy the cooking classes at Publix Aprons Cooking School. You can choose between demo classes, where the chefs do all the work, or hands-on where you don the aprons. My husband and I like the demos. We sit at white clothed tables and follow along with our set of printed recipes while the chefs explain each preparation method. For our latest class, they started us off with a welcome glass of Chateau St. Michelle Pinot Gris. I liked this light golden white wine.
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The first dish was an Apple Pear salad. As one chef showed us how to prepare the ingredients and mix the dressing, two other guys dished out the food onto a series of plates for serving. The salad was delicious, a balance of sweet to the tang of blue cheese. This was paired with a Chateau St. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc. It was too fruity for my taste.
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Next we enjoyed an Alaskan Salmon Terrine with Asparagus Sauce. We always learn tricks of the trade or new info at these events, and tonight we learned about salmon. Here are the five different types/grades from the top rating down: King, Sockeye, Coho, Keta, and Pink. Keta (from the Arctic) has more oil than Sockeye so is good for grilling. (Any mistakes here are due to my misinterpretation.) Sockeye is never farmed. This dish, that looked like a paté, reminded me of gefilte fish. The asparagus sauce was a very good accompaniment as was the Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay served with it.
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For the main entrée, we had Cedar Plank Wild-Caught Salmon, along with a Couscous side dish that contained corn and cilantro. I’m not a cilantro fan and the couscous was from a mix, so I’d probably choose another flavor. I did learn that if you want to take the kernels off a stick of corn, hold the corn on top of a bundt pan in the center hole, and then scrape downward. I’d also have preferred this fish to come with a sauce so it wasn’t so plain. The Chateau St. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon won my approval. Yes, we had a red wine with fish, and it worked fine.
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Dessert was homemade cheesecake with raspberry sauce. What’s not to like?
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You can see cooking lesson videos for yourself at https://www.youtube.com/user/LightsCameraCook/videos or check out the Publix cooking schools here: http://www.publix.com/recipes-planning/aprons-cooking-schools.
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Chef Jean Pierre Cooking School

We attended Jean Pierre’s Cooking School last night, thanks to a generous gift from our daughter. The complex consists of a commercial kitchen in back, a store selling gourmet spices, olive oil, vinegar, cooking pans, and utensils in the front, and a classroom holding thirty guests off to the side. We received bottled water, but if you want wine, you are welcome to bring your own. We took our seats in the comfortably upholstered chairs. These all faced forward so we could easily see the chef or watch his movements in an overhead mirror.
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Chef Jean Pierre is an entertaining personality who’d operated The Left Bank restaurant in downtown Fort Lauderdale. We used to enjoy meals there along with his tableside preparations of various French dishes. Now he runs the cooking school, which appears to be highly popular judging from the full-house last night and the distance some folks came to attend.
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The first course was Shrimp Sambucca with Israeli Couscous. It tasted sublime and could easily be a main entrée. It seemed fairly easy to make, except for peeling and deveining the shrimp.
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Next came Steak Diane in a flavorful mushroom tomato sauce. The chef cut beef tenderloins into medallions and pounded them between parchment paper so they came out thin and easy to sauté. The potatoes were made by thinly slicing sweet potatoes and regular baking potatoes on a mandolin. This dish required a lot of preparation so we got to taste the results. Buttered baby green beans accompanied the meal.
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By now I was full, but I made room for the irresistible Bananas Foster. Who doesn’t like this sweet dish of caramelized bananas with vanilla ice cream?
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Naturally I learned a few interesting cooking tips. For example, if you’re using thickeners, flour should be added in the beginning as it needs to cook adequately. Cornstarch can be added at the end. When adding flour to a sauce cooking in a pot, put a strainer in the pot and add the flour. Whisk the flour through the strainer, and this will avoid lumps.
As for storing garlic, you can buy a jar of peeled garlic. Then chop it all up in a food processor. Add a little olive oil and mix. Freeze in an ice cube tray, and you have set portions to drop into your dishes thereafter.
NOTE: These are my interpretations and any errors are mine.
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Lobster Lovers Cooking Class

Lobster Lovers Cooking Class

We attended the Lobster Lovers class at Publix Aprons® Cooking School. My husband and I like shrimp better than lobster, but this menu looked too tempting to resist. We prefer the demo classes where students sit at white-clothed tables rather than the hands-on ones where you have to do the actual work. In the demo variety, after the chef makes each dish in front of us, we get to eat it with an accompanying wine. This makes for a gourmet meal complete with recipes and cooking tips.

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Grilled Lobster, Shrimp and Andouille Chowder paired with an Erath Pinot Grigio.

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This was delicious and filling, making it a good choice for a hearty winter soup. We liked the wine, a pleasant taste to our palates. Cooking tip 1: Maine cold water lobster is sweeter than warm water Caribbean varieties. Cooking tip 2: Rather than dunking shrimp into a pot of boiling water, put it into a pot when the water is room temperature and bring it to a boil along with the water.

Spiny Lobster and Mango Spring Rolls with Tarragon-Lime Aioli paired with a Benzinger Sauvignon Blanc.

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This was a tasty appetizer. I especially liked the aioli even though I’m not a big tarragon fan. Cooking tip 1: An emulsifier binds substances together like vinegar and oil. Examples of emulsifiers are mustard, egg yolks, and garlic. Cooking tip 2: Pasteurized eggs reduce the chance of salmonella if you are using raw eggs in a recipe. As for the wine, it didn’t seem to have as much body as the first one and was too light for our tastes.

Pan-Bronzed Lobster Risotto with Roasted Corn Relish and Orange-Sherry Reduction paired with a Layer Cake Chardonnay.

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I liked the lobster, sauce, and corn relish but there was too much risotto in comparison. Cooking tip, if I heard correctly: You can roast corn in its husk at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. I prefer my method, which is microwaving it in the husk for 4 minutes, chopping off both ends, and sliding the husk off. We really liked this wine choice, our favorite of the evening.

Peach Brown Betty with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream paired with a Chateau St. Michelle Riesling.

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This dessert was lip-smacking good. So good and easy to make that I might even make it at home once I lose the weight I’d gained here tonight. However, I’ll use store-bought ice cream instead of making my own. The wine was too sweet for our tastes. Cooking tip 1: Use frozen and thawed sliced peaches instead of blanching and peeling fresh ones. Cooking tip 2: Cinnamon is an anesthetic so if you eat too much, it can numb your tongue.

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French Cooking Class

This past weekend, I gave a talk at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore on Navigating the Rocky Road to Publication. We spoke about the different routes to publication, query letters, synopses, approaching agents, organizational tools, and more. My most oft repeated advice was to study the markets and network with other writers.

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We dodged rainstorms on the way home and stopped at Nordstrom so I could reward myself with this pair of shoes. It’s hard to find turquoise sandals in the strappy style I prefer. Aren’t they cute?

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That same evening, we attended another cooking class at Publix Cooking School. These are always fun. I like the demos where we sit and watch the chefs do all the work while we taste the fruits of their labor and sip a different wine with each course. Saturday night was the French bistro class. We received a taste of a Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc as a welcome drink. Our starter menu included a filet of sole with a brown butter caper sauce and a scoop of garlic mashed potatoes. This was delicious, served with a lovely Cote du Rhone white Reserve wine.

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I didn’t care for the next dish, a warm lentil salad with sausage. It didn’t smell appetizing to me, nor did I like the taste. We had another Cote du Rhone Vintus white, but I preferred the one above.

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Next came a grilled strip steak with a couple of large-cut French fries and a ramekin of Swiss Chard Gratin. I liked the vegetable dish but would make it with spinach at home. The meat was okay but a bit chewy for my taste, and the potatoes nothing special. I usually don’t eat steaks. I prefer juicy prime ribs or tender filet mignon when I eat out and want beef for a change. The red wine, another Cote du Rhone, was very good.

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The dessert, a dark chocolate mousse, was light and frothy with a semi-sweet taste that suited my palate. If I were making this, I’d add whipped topping. A sweet dessert wine topped off the meal.

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I highly recommend the Publix cooking classes if you have them in your area. You can do the demo class or a hands-on lesson, and either way you get a gourmet meal with wine at a reasonable price, plus recipes to carry home.

 

Cooking Class

My husband and I have always enjoyed taking cooking classes together. This time, we brought our grown children along. They were visiting for Thanksgiving weekend and we thought it would be a fun experience.

Here’s a recap of the weekend up until then: We enjoyed our traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day, followed by an evening of TV viewing wherein the ladies watched the Hallmark Channel and the guys watched sports. Friday morning, we ate breakfast out and then headed to Westfield Mall to shop at Dillards. Lunch followed at the Red Robin. Then we saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. It kept your interest although the movie dragged out with too many close-ups. That evening, we ate out at J. Alexander. Saturday, my daughter and I indulged ourselves in nail treatments at the salon. Then we all took a walk at Volunteer Park on Sunrise Blvd.

Volunteer Park

Saturday at 6:30 found us at Aprons Cooking School inside our local Publix. If you have one near you, by all means go take a class. But bring an appetite. You’ll come away stuffed from all the delicious dishes you get to taste. You can choose either a Demo class, where you get to watch the chefs; or a Hands-On class where you do the work. I prefer the former at this stage in my life.

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Chefs Maggie and Wes poured us each a welcome drink, a Pinot Grigio. I liked this light white wine. Oh, did I tell you the title for tonight’s adventure? The class was called “Girl’s Night Out.” I called up in advance to make sure guys could attend. I told our family during the drive over. The guys took it in with a sense of humor. No matter; one of the chefs was male, and it was a small class so the title really didn’t matter.

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We began the night with a Walnut and Brie Strudel with Cranberry and Florida Citrus Jam. The strudel pieces looked like egg rolls, but they were lip-smacking good! This was my favorite of the evening and it was served with a Sauvignon Blanc wine.

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Next came crispy fried crab fritters, with the crab on the side for people allergic to seafood. “A slice and a slice equals a dice,” said the chefs as they demonstrated techniques. Served with an avocado remoulade, it hit the spot. Another winner. I liked the Chardonnay served with this dish.

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The entrée was a Caesar roasted swordfish with citrus roasted asparagus and a scoop of an orzo mixture on the side. A parmesan crisp added a decorative touch. Swordfish is a meaty variety with a fishy taste. I was surprised when the chefs said that tilapia, one of my favorites, has little nutritional value compared to other fish. Think I’ll stick with salmon. A different Chardonnay accompanied the seafood.

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Finally, for dessert we had red velvet cupcakes topped with cassis cream cheese. These melted in the mouth and so did the warm frosting. They’re unlike anything you’d buy in the store and are like a dessert from a gourmet restaurant, including the presentation. However, the ruby port wine served with this sweet was too strong for our taste.

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All in all, we had a great time and walked away a few pounds heavier and with a packet of recipes to try at home.

 

 

Cooking School

Cooking Class

Imagine going to a gourmet restaurant, watching the cooks prepare your meal while following along with the recipes, and then eating a delicious four-course meal with wine pairings. This was our experience at Publix’s Apron Cooking School. It was a repeat visit for us as we greatly enjoy this experience. Tonight’s menu started with a crisp salad using curly lettuce with tomatoes, bacon, dates, and a warm walnut vinaigrette dressing. Dijon mustard gave this dressing a kick while maple syrup added a sweet element. Accompanying the starter was a Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay. I liked this medium bodied white wine that sells for $12.99.

Cooking Tips: Cutting an onion releases an enzyme that causes tearing. To avoid this, leave on the root end. Remove the stem and peel, then slice through almost to the root. Turn onion and dice in the other direction.

To increase the juice from a fresh lemon, roll it on the counter first or microwave it for 8 seconds before squeezing.

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Next came a yummy Portobello mushroom and barley soup. Including carrots, celery, and onion, this was so good that I still smack my lips at the remembered taste. Truffle oil added finesse. I loved the nutty texture of the barley. The accompanying wine was a Pinot Grigio by Ecco Domani. This was good but I liked the Chardonnay better.

Cooking Tips: Cut your vegetables the same size so they cook evenly together.

And—Garlic burns so add it last.

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The main course was buttermilk meatloaf with stroganoff mushrooms and egg noodles.

This was perfection. The wine was a Santa Rita Reserve Sauvignon Blanc. I would have preferred a red wine with the meat dish.

Cooking Tips: Use a tube of tomato paste instead of a can. Then when a recipe calls for one tablespoon, you won’t have a whole can left over.
A roux helps to thicken sauces. It’s equal parts fat and flour. The fat coats the flour and allows it to be absorbed into the sauce. A roux can be light or dark.

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Dessert tempted our palates with warm banana shortcakes. The sparkling wine was a pink Moscato. It was all right but I wouldn’t buy it. I love anything with warmed bananas so this dish hit the spot to finish off the evening.

Cooking Tips: Baking soda helps things spread; baking power helps them to rise (or is it the other way around?)

To roll out dough, put it between pieces of parchment paper. The dough is easier to cut if you refrigerate it first.

To whip cream, move your whisk back and forth rather than around the bowl.

Sugar in the raw is produced when sugar is spun at a high velocity and the molasses separates out. Molasses plus sugar equals light brown sugar.

**These tips are accurate to the best of my hearing ability and are subject to my interpretation.

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Publix Apron’s Cooking School is a fun and tasty experience. You can sign up for the demo or take a hands-on class. Either way, you’ll eat a wonderful meal and explore some new wines.